Halloween treats don’t need pounds of mediocre candy. There are plenty of ways to “dress up” your candy, other, healthier treat options, unexpected ways to create a food with a Halloween theme, as well as real, “adult” food — not just snacks and candy!
Here are 15 deceptively easy ways to spice up your Halloween treat game and Halloween party buffet (boo-fay) that will surely be memorable. In the end, never underestimate cookie cutters, food coloring, labeling and décor, and a little creative ingenuity. Each idea has several different options, so pick your favorites and get inspired.
15. Wrapped Lollipops
Let’s start with arguably the easiest and cutest way to go above and beyond in your treat presentation. Simply use tissues, tissue paper, or small squares of white fabric to wrap around a lollipop. Secure at the base with a rubber band, tape, or ribbon. Then use a black marker or stickers to create a cute (or scary) ghost face.
These are cheap and so easy to make, but really show care and thought being put into this little extra factor of the candy. You can also reverse this and use orange and green tissue paper and wrap the lollipop upside down to make a jack-o’-lantern face, with the lollipop stick acting as the stem!
14. Decorate Fruit
Even if these are included in your kid’s lunch or on a Halloween treat table, fruit is always a favorite healthy option to candy. Oranges can be drawn on with sharpies to make jack-o’-lanterns, or peeled — it’s remarkable how much a peeled orange looks like a pumpkin — and use a piece of celery for a stem.
Bananas can also be drawn on to resemble ghosts, or peeled, cut in half, and have chocolate chips — or something similar — to make ghost eyes and mouth. Grapes stacked on a skewer — optional strawberry at one end — with dots of icing to make eyes, make not only a caterpillar, but a portable treat.
Experiment with apple-wedge “lips” with peanut butter holding mini-marshmallow “teeth,” Frankenstein-faced peeled kiwis with mini pretzel-stick neck bolts, and an apropos mix of blackberries and orange cantaloupe. These can be just as fun, and more nutritious and fulfilling, than just candy.
13. Toy and Treat
Another very simple way to dress up your treats is to cleverly add little trinkets, favors, and novelties to your food. A popular example is to add plastic vampire teeth to donut holes (with optional addition of eyes) to make monster donuts!
This way you can spice up plain donuts to become Halloween donuts, and your guests get a party favor to go with their sustenance. Any amount of small plastic toys and treats can be applied to every day food to “Halloween-ify” them. Of course be cautious with any risk of choking hazards.
Toys can be festively placed on top of cupcakes, holiday picks can be stuck in sandwiches and sliders, and more. Check out your local party store for small (safe) toys. Clean them if necessary, and add them to your selection of food. It’s easy to make any food look like it belongs, and a way to leave your guests a little present to remember their evening!
12. Play with Pretzels
Pretzel rods are a highly underestimated tool for creative food arrangement and presentation— and another alternative to candy. A large pretzel rod with a gathering of mini pretzel sticks in a bag at the base can make a broom.
Mini brooms can also be made with small pretzel sticks stuck in a section of frayed string cheese. You can also dip pretzel rods in different Halloween-colored chocolates to make a sweet and savory treat. They can also be decorated this way, with eyes, faces, slices of almonds to make fingernails on “fingers,” or edible glitter and confetti to make “wands.”
You can really go crazy and impress with these simple snacks.
11. “Guts” Meat Tray
Don’t worry, meat and cheese trays won’t be left out! And you’ll only really need one thing to delight your guests with this display: a medium or small-sized skeleton, which are sure to be abundantly found around the Halloween season.
Simply arrange your skeleton on the platter so the “guts” area in the rib cage is free to stack your cold cuts into an organ-inspired arrangement. You can also use real ribs instead of a skeleton’s, as well as cocktail wiener lined up to resemble intestines. This is a cute, easy decoration that’s all in the arranging.
10. Hot Dog Mummies
If you want a food a little more substantial, one can’t go wrong with the classic and popular pigs in a blanket. However, the twist here is to make them “mummies” by wrapping crescent dough (or similar) in long, thin strips around the hot dogs to resemble mummy’s wrappings.
Extra points if you cut a line about a third up the middle of the hot dog, and small slits on each side to create “arms.” Bake according to the pastry-of-choice directions, add spooky, dotted mustard eyes, and you’ve got a hearty, delicious, and adorable Halloween food.
9. “Deviled” Eggs
A classic buffet staple and favorite, even something as seemingly regular and unexciting as deviled eggs needn’t be left out. There are two options to zhoosh these tasty eggs up. If you want something a little more unique, you can dye the eggs themselves and give them a cracked, spooky look.
The method is simple and can be found at http://parentingchaos.com/monster-hard-boiled-eggs. However, you can also make them look like eyeballs by optionally dying the yolk mixture to a natural eye color and adding a black olive slice to the center to resemble the pupil. You can even draw on “veins” with red food coloring and a toothpick.
Either way, your eggs are sure to be truly “deviled!”
8. Bread Sticks
Another more substantial finger food, there are a plethora of things you can do with shaping breadsticks. Such a simple food can literally be transformed into scary shapes and spooky-themed creatures. Snakes, spiders, fingers, brooms, skulls, bones, or even a mix of all.
The choice is up to you! Shape before you cook according to directions and pair with blood-red marinara dip for a tasty, winning pair. Fingers and bones look especially convincing dipped in marinara!
7. Pumpkin Decoration Dip
This is a great little trick to present any dips in a super creative way. You can go with the standard of serving dip in a small, hollowed-out pumpkin for a festive flair, or you can go the funny route. Empty and carve a small pumpkin with a retching, pained expression, with its mouth open wide.
Place your dip along a tray leading out of the pumpkin’s mouth to resemble throw up! Guacamole is especially perfect for this effect. You can also wash, dry, salt, and roast the seeds from your cleaned out pumpkin as an extra snack.
6. Shrimp Brain
If you really want to impress with a sophisticated, more adult food, the “shrimp brain” is the way to go. Those little, light-pink cocktail shrimp, when arranged properly, molded, and in the best case, displayed atop a head, really resemble the appearance of a brain. Cocktail sauce also happens to be perfectly blood-colored.
You’ll need to arrange your shrimp in a brain-sized/generally shaped bowl, and add a sauce with some gelatin incorporated to set the shape. A few different recipes can be easily found online. It is also advised to add roasted red pepper strips as veins!
Once the mixture has set in the bowl, then you can flip onto your display dish. This will definitely be one of the most impressive and memorable displays!
5. Stabbed Meatballs
Another popular hors d’oeuvre included in buffets is meatballs. Instead of offering meatballs in a serving dish or sadly displayed on a platter with boring wooden toothpicks for guests to grab and eat, it’s easy to cleverly incorporate these into your Halloween theme with a little condiment decoration and an ingenious choice of picks.
By designing your meatballs to resemble eyeballs, with black olive pupils, mustard irises, and bloody ketchup accents, you can complete the macabre effect by stabbing each with small, disposable forks, prongs, or plastic cocktail swords.
On the trend of shaped meats, if you want this delicious option perhaps for a full dinner, you can get even more creative in shaping meatloaf. There are many ways you can shape the meatloaf; a pumpkin, ghost, or bat is too easy and predictable.
Given meatloaf’s texture and “fleshy” appearance, hands, a hand and an arm, two feet, any limb really, are much more grisly and fitting. Finish off with “bone” and “nail” (onion) details and ketchup around the “severed” areas. It will give a whole new meaning to having your friends for dinner!
3. Chicken Boo-dle Soup
If you want to go all out with a Halloween-themed meal, or don’t plan on celebrating with a buffet, this chicken noodle soup recipe is perfect for a chilly, ghostly autumn night — or maybe for lunch before evening festivities. You can use your favorite basic homemade chicken noodle soup recipe and incorporate a couple twists.
Before boiling your carrots, peel and carefully trim the length of the carrot into a pumpkin silhouette, then slice. Then, use black food dye to dye your pasta of choice. Something with less nooks and crannies might work a little better. The full recipe for chicken boo-dle soup can be found here: http://www.morganmanagesmommyhood.com/chicken-boo-dle-soup/.
2. Candy Corn Cheesecake
For a sophisticated, grown-up dessert, and as an alternative to candy, why not indulge in a themed cheesecake? This cute candy corn cheesecake, made with layers to imitate the famous Halloween candy, is a subtle way to dress up an otherwise regular sweet treat, without going over the top.
A recipe, and helpful accompanying video, can be found at http://www.wilton.com/candy-corn-cheesecake/WLPROJ-5356.html. If cheesecake specifically isn’t your taste, you could also use different colored puddings in a Graham cracker crust or even make a candy corn-colored, layered ice cream cake.
1. Punch it up
So, you have all these great foods to have and serve on Halloween, but what about drinks? Believe it or not, there are several fun ways to dress up even your punch bowl. Concoct your favorite punch or drink — optional being made black with activated charcoal — and add some clever ingredients.
A popular, functional decoration is an ice hand, made by filling a powder-less plastic glove with water, freezing, removing the covering, and then adding to the punch bowl. You can also add other novelty-shaped ice, toy eyeballs, or blood orange slices to add even more of a punch to your punch.